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Why Is Unlearning More Important Than Learning?

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Most recently, I attended a seminar on ‘Thinking like a leader’, which underscored the various ways to keep ourselves abreast with the change around us; the change in technology, the change in work patterns and the change in mindset.

This makes me write about the today’s article: Is teaching-learning only restricted to an implementation of newly acquired skills or knowledge? Or does it transverse beyond application and looking at things from a fresh perspective?

We are so controlled by our preconceived notions and traditional modus operandi, that we are rarely able to see a picture beyond that frame. With the bombardment of information and the advent of technology, half of the knowledge is reduced to inconsequential for today’s era. To refuse to adapt and embrace the avant-garde methods will sooner or later put you in a run-of-the-mill spot. The key to survival would be mastering the art of ‘Which information’ and ‘How to use it’.

How can we do that? By unlearning the misbeliefs and fallacies which are not backed by facts and figures or getting rid of the data which are obsolete in the changing scenario.

Consider this: You just purchased a beautiful cup from your nearest store. Filling the cup with tea is learning and emptying the cup is unlearning. Now after emptying it, you can fill it with a cappuccino or a smoothie. This is called relearning.
The point is: The cup is same, just your drink has changed. To create a space for new learnings, one should move beyond or unlearn the age-old methods to make room for innovative ones.

\”In some sense our ability to open the future will depend not on how well we learn anymore but on how well we are able to unlearn.\”
– Alan Kay

Now, how does this apply to the investing world?

Many times, when we talk to our clients about the role of technology or rigorous fundamental research or innovative ways of investing, few of them responded, “We have been investing on our own since many years. And, we are able to generate returns of 10-15% on an annual basis.”

That is where the unlearning and relearning comes into the picture. The market dynamics are changing, which calls for a change in your investment methodology as well. Without this change, you would be standing at the same spot, while others are honing their skills and progressing in their career paths.


How can you unlearn and relearn to experience a paradigm shift?

  1. Acknowledge the need to change:
    Every step towards self-development starts with a seed of acceptance – Acceptance to understand the bigger and the undiscovered world to experience the change. The next step would be figuring out the areas where you wish to grow.
  2. Thirst for new knowledge and skills:
    To stay on the front foot, you need to hone new skills. For e.g. In the world of investment, if you are adopting a D-I-Y approach, you would definitely need to sharpen your research and analytical skills, learn excel and number-crunching, etc.
  3. Take up challenging tasks out of your comfort zone:Take out some time for introspection, self-discovery to figure out the financial goals ahead. Review your budget and portfolio once in a while to stay on track.
  4. Most important: When in doubt, consult the experts:They are called experts for a reason. They are in sync with the market dynamics, have solid investing experience across various business cycles and are able to think from a long-term investment perspective.

Remember: Change is the only constant. And coupled with the volatility in the stock markets, the key to success would only be embracing the change and bidding adieu to the obsolete traditional ways of long term investment.

Read more:  How Long-term investing helps create life-changing wealth – TOI

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